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MSWA Bulletin Magazine Autumn 2020

A fresh look for NDIS support We’re all in this together – a message from our CEO Myth busting the stigma of attending counselling Food matters

COUNSELLING ENHANCING

COUNSELLING ENHANCING POSITIVE RELATIONSHIPS The seven pillars of wellbeing are: education, stress management, spirituality/meaning, exercise, nutrition, connectedness, and environment (Dr Craig Hassed, The Essence of Health). This article focuses on one of these pillars – enhancing connectedness. What can you think of that brings us closer together and strengthens our connections with others? Examples of values that build connection include love, harmony, respect, vulnerability, compassion, gratitude, and forgiveness. So how can we enhance these? Rick Harrington, in Stress, Health & Well-Being makes the following suggestions for fostering positive relationships: Express appreciation for another person’s likeable qualities and behaviours. Show empathy – listen fully to the other person. Clarify by repeating what you’ve understood them to say before responding. Philosopher Paul Tillich said “Love is Listening”. Use clear messages to respectfully express your feelings, observations and needs, such as using I-messages to express your feelings. An example may sound something like “I feel worried when you come home late without calling me”, rather than “You’re late, where have you been?”. Be clear about your boundaries and limits – state firmly and respectfully what you will and won’t accept from others, and repeat this as often as needed. Be assertive – respond with just enough assertiveness to achieve your aim, without going over the top. Negotiate – normal and necessary for resolving issues and addressing everyone’s needs. Time out can be helpful if you get stuck, and then persist by returning to the discussion when tensions have cooled and perspective is regained. Be direct – avoid being drawn into a triangle in someone else’s conflict, and also avoid drawing a third party into your conflict. Deal directly with the other person. Show gratitude – expressing appreciation helps promote good feelings and enhances relationships. Forgive both others and yourself. This can be hard to do but can be liberating and helps repair relationships. Help others – this is generally a win/ win situation where the helper and the person they are helping both benefit. Just a small act of kindness can be uplifting. However, self-care is important when helping others in order to avoid overdoing it (for example as a long term carer of a loved one). Accept help from others – just as important as giving help to others. We all need help and compassion at times and being able to accept help can reduce stress and enhance relationships. Sometimes help comes from family, friends or strangers, and sometimes it can be professional help from a counsellor or other health professional. LIL O’TOOLE MSWA COUNSELLOR 14

COUNSELLING MYTH BUSTING THE STIGMA OF ATTENDING COUNSELLING ROB ORR MSWA COUNSELLOR “I don’t need to see a counsellor, I’m not crazy.” Therapy or counselling remains mysterious to most people. What really happens in that room? If I go to a counsellor does that mean I'm crazy, weak or a failure? Will it change how friends, family and work colleagues see me? Unfortunately, as a result of this concern many people decide not to pursue counselling, despite experiencing significant emotional, physical or mental distress. Negative attitudes towards attending counselling exist in our culture but can also be carried internally – in other words your own personal beliefs about it being unacceptable to have a mental health concern will influence you as well. This is especially true for men, as the traditional male role includes being tough, independent and selfsufficient which increases concerns about seeking outside help. Busting the myth – the truth is most people who attend counselling do not have a serious mental illness. They often do have serious life challenges, or are going through difficult life changes, that may be stretching their current ability to cope. This, in turn, may negatively affect their wellbeing and ability to function as well as they would like. Examples of serious life challenges can be dealing with work-related stressors; financial problems; chronic health issues or a recent health diagnosis; and family or parent/child conflict. Examples of difficult life changes can be the death of a family member or friend; the ending of a romantic relationship or close friendship; family/couple changes related to the addition of a child; getting married or divorced; caregiving for loved ones due to illness or disability; and decision-making challenges related to these life choices. These are just some of the reasons why people decide to go to counselling. So, if you are going through one or more of these challenges at the same time, you're not alone. The effects are often cumulative, which is generally referred to as a 'pile-up' of stressors. Counselling during these times can be helpful in providing both the support and skills to better address these life challenges. Ultimately, it is an investment in your emotional, physical and mental health. You don’t have to be crazy to see a counsellor, but you do need courage to address issues and make some changes in your way of dealing with life’s demands. If you would like to make an appointment with an MSWA Counsellor, please call the Counselling Department on 9365 4811. 15